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Als- Pitched1st Curve Ball Game 1874- Pro Umpire 1870s For Sale
1-1/2 pg. ALS, March 7, 1910, Cincinnati, Ohio, by Charles Hammond "Ham" Avery (1854-1927) Professional Umpire (National League 1884-85) and Yale’s first baseball star. Avery pitched the first (ever) baseball game using a “curve-ball” and was one of the first persons to throw a curve ball. He turned down professional baseball offers from Boston and Hartford teams to practice law. In this letter he congratulates a friend (and fellow Yale alumni) for his appointment as a Federal Judge. In full: “My dear Howard- I was much gratified when I read that you had been appointed U.S. District Judge to fill Judge Thompson’s place. If I have the fortune to have any U.S. Court practice it will be a pleasure to appear before a judge in whom I have confidence & who, I know from experience, is well qualified for the office. With the confident expectation of a confirmation by the Senate & best wishes & congratulations in advance I am , as ever, your friend, C. Hammond Avery.” Avery was born in Cincinnati and went to College at Yale where he joined the Yale baseball team in 1873. One day he passed a teenager named Fred Goldsmith on the street who had a baseball with him. (Goldsmith lived near Yale and would later go on to become one of the best professional pitchers in the Natl. League). They started playing catch and on one pitch Goldsmith threw Avery a curve ball—a pitch that Goldsmith said he invented. Fascinated, Avery asked Goldsmith to teach him how to throw a curve ball, which he did. Honing his new pitch, Avery used it in a game he pitched against Harvard on June 14, 1874. This was the first game ever pitched (professional or otherwise) using the curve ball. Citing Frank Blair, baseball pitching great Connie Mack wrote in a 1950 article that “The first man to pitch a curve ball in a game was Ham Avery, who pitched the game for Yale in a June 14, 1874, game against Harvard. Yale won 4-0. Avery was taught to throw the pitch by Frederick E. Goldsmith. This was the first shut-out ever scored against Harvard. They played again the next day, and Yale beat Harvard again (7-4) with Avery again pitching.” Mack went on to say that W. A. “Candy” Cummings, then a professional pitcher, was widely credited as inventing the curve ball and that Cummings knew how to throw the pitch in 1874, but he didn’t use it in a game, fearing he didn’t have enough control over it to throw it for strikes… but he would throw a curve to second base while warming up between innings to delight the fans and newspapers picked up on this, thus assuming Cummings invented the pitch. All his life Goldsmith claimed that he, and not Cummings, had invented the curve ball and that Cummings threw a cross-fire pitch and that his balls didn’t curve [recent articles suggest that Goldsmith may be correct and some argue that Goldsmith should be entered into the Baseball HOF as co-inventor of the pitch.] When Avery graduated Yale in 1875, Harry Wright (player-manager of the Boston Red Stockings--now the Boston Red Sox) offered him $3,400 to pitch for Boston. The Hartford Dark Blues, also interested in Avery, met Boston's offer. However, baseball was then a working man’s game and Avery was a Yale Skull & Bones Society blueblood and thought professional baseball beneath him. He turned them down and instead studied law at the Cincinnati Law School and in the office of Judge Alphonso Taft (former U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Secretary of War, and the father of President William H. Taft). Instead, Avery practiced law his entire life. HOWEVER, he supplemented his income by umpiring. He umpired 9 professional games of the National Association (2 games in 1874 and 7 games in 1874), all of them as the home plate umpire. Avery died in Florida at age 62. A nifty item for the "eclectic" baseball collector.
The letter has reverse mounting traces at the top and some age toning, o/w very good. Buyer pays $2.25 shipping.
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Als- Pitched1st Curve Ball Game 1874- Pro Umpire 1870s: $338